Portugal the hardest rally, says Kubica

Formula 1 ace expects a tough WRC debut on next month’s gravel rally

By Franck Drui

15 March 2013 - 17:36
Portugal the hardest rally, says Kubica

Four weeks before he makes his World Rally Championship debut on Rally Portugal, Robert Kubica has admitted that the loose-surface event is likely to be his hardest test of the year.

The ex-Formula 1 driver announced a switch to rallying a fortnight ago and revealed further details of his 2013 programme at a press conference in Warsaw yesterday.

The Pole will contest the seven-round WRC 2 championship in a Citroen DS3 RRC, tackling the remaining events in the WRC calendar except the rounds in Argentina, Australia and the season finale in Great Britain.

Alongside him will be experienced Polish co-driver, Maciek Baran, who since 2003 has navigated for WRC regular Michal Solowow. The pair will also take part in four rounds of the European Championship, starting with next week’s all-asphalt Rally Islas Canarias.

As he unveiled the livery of his new Citroen, Kubica explained that his objective for 2013 was to build experience of the rallies and of driving with pace notes.

“Each and every rally will be new to me,” he said. “This year Rally Portugal will be the hardest. Although some sources apparently claim that I have already done some test on gravel, in fact I haven’t done it yet. We will test after the Canaries Rally. Rally Portugal will be my first world championship event, first gravel rally and for the first time I will tackle such long stages – one of them has over 50 kilometres. It will be a steep learning curve for us.”

“My goal is clear: to learn, learn, learn. Experience is essential here, more important than in racing. On circuits we do a lot of laps, the driver knows the track by heart. Here you have to trust the pace notes completely. For me it is important to work on my pace notes system, I feel it can be improved and this is the key to success,” he added.

Kubica acknowledged that the decision to switch from racing to rallying hadn’t been easy, and he didn’t rule out a return to the racetrack.

“Everything I do in my life, I do with one hundred per cent commitment,” he said. “My approach to rallies will be the same, but I will not put racing aside. Probably I will test a lot on circuit this year, but only if my rally schedule allows it.”

“The most important thing to me was to come back to competing at highest possible level in motorsport. I guess it worked out – only Formula 1 is at higher level than World Rally Championship, although in fact it is impossible to compare these two series. These are two different kinds of sport, so it’s like comparing one of the most famous marathon runs in the world to 100 metres sprint run during Olympic Games,” he added.



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